2016 was a landmark year for global politics and international relations. It was also an eventful year for the health and safety industry, with new sentencing guidelines changing the way transgressions are prosecuted.
Alcumus has been looking at how these socio-political and legislative changes will affect the health and safety industry in 2017. Health and safety specialists from across the organisation have offered their insight into this topic and have shared their predictions for the year ahead.
Dale Jones, Technical Manager for Alcumus SafeContractor:
‘There will be a bigger push on the “health” in health and safety. There are a number of HSE and client group initiatives going on at present which should lead to programmes aimed at reducing the health impacts of construction at every stage.
‘2016 has seen a vast increase in the size of health and safety fines, in addition to the numbers of directors and senior managers prosecuted. I would envisage this increasing further.
‘There will be new sentencing guidelines in play during 2017. These will only allow a reduction to potential sentences if a guilty plea is made during the first hearing. Changing the plea to guilty later on in the case will no longer result in sentences being reduced by a third.
‘The threat of Brexit could see a further increase in the construction skills shortage. This could create more dependence on SME’s within the supply chain in order to fill the gaps. Emphasis will be needed to make SME’s aware of their health and safety duties. SME’s will also need to ensure that staff have the right skills, knowledge, experience and training to undertake the allocated work.’
Andrew Regel, Training Technical Lead for Alcumus HSE:
‘Normally we would have a long list of forthcoming regulations, but things have gone very quiet on the legislative front.
‘A greater priority will be given to mental health issues in the workplace. Musculoskeletal disorders will also continue to be a major issue as a consequence of the aging workforce.
‘Companies will make greater use of health and safety training, in order to avoid enforcement action and to reinvest in their business. E-learning will be a particularly popular method of administering health and safety training.
‘Finally, SME’s will engage more with occupational health issues in general.’
Simon Jones, Head of Training Practice for Alcumus HSE:
‘With Brexit taking centre stage there will undoubtedly be pressure for deregulation. The Leave campaign frequently cited EU rules as being burdensome in the UK. However, this will not cause changes to health and safety legislation and enforcement over the next year.
‘The sentencing guidelines which came into force in February 2016 will continue to affect transgressors of Health and Safety legislation. The risk of high fines will influence senior management behaviour and expectations.
‘The debated ISO 45001 Health and Safety Management standard may finally see the light of day in 2017. This will provide an accredited health and safety goal for organisations to achieve, along with ISO 9001 Quality Management and ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards.’